Almost Half of All Americans Over 50 Play Video Games


The NPD Group recently conducted a survey on the behalf of the ESA, which is the industry trade group that represents the game publishers and is responsible for the organization of E3 every year. Their study looked to see what percentage of people over the age of 50 played games and how often they played those games. The NPD Group conducted the survey among 1,800 participants age 50 and older and counted games played on smartphones, video game consoles, portable game consoles, computers or any other game systems.

Out of those respondents, 48% of those adults over 50 reported that they play games. In addition to that, 80% of these gamers reported that they played on a weekly basis and about 45% of the gamers reported that they played daily. In addition to these statistics, the NPD Group study found that they prefer games that mimic traditional forms of game play. The most popular games were card or tile games, puzzle or logic games. The least popular were trivia, word and board games, however first person shooters, real time simulators or role playing games were not taken into account.

The majority of the gamers played at home and most gamed play was done during the later hours of the day. Also, among those that have children in the household, they stated that 63% said that their children influence which games they buy and 62% said their children help them learn about the latest games and game technology.

The NPD Group conducted the survey for ESA among a U.S. representative sample of approximately 1,800 gamers age 50 and older. Survey respondents said they play video games on at least one system or device, such as a smartphone, video game console, portable game console, computer, or other game system.

These findings merely confirm that gaming is not just for kids or young adults, but rather all ages and the games that people prefer will change with time. We can most likely expect that the 50 yearolds in 10 or 20 years will be playing a lot more RTS, FPS and MMORPGs than their parents did at that age.

 

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Bethesda wants Elder Scrolls Online accessible without Xbox Live Gold


elder scrolls online

Bethesda is working with Microsoft to possibly get the Xbox maker to drop the Xbox Live Gold requirement for its upcoming MMO, The Elder Scrolls Online. The publisher wants Microsoft to make a special exemption for their MMO on the console, in hopes that more people will be able to play the game without having to be an Xbox Live Gold subscriber.

“We have been in talks with Microsoft about that very thing, and seeing whether or not there’s any room to change their minds about that,” Hines told OXM. “For folks who are only paying for The Elder Scrolls Online and don’t want to pay for an Xbox Live Gold Subscription, just to pay for The Elder Scrolls Online.”

It’s unclear what type of progress Bethesda has made with Microsoft about waiving the requirement. According to the recent statement, Hines doesn’t sound like Microsoft is going to bend on their long time policy. However, if successful, it could set a precedence for other subscription based or free-to-play games to arrive on the console that aren’t stuck behind a paywall.

Right now, this is one of the major differences between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. While both Sony and Microsoft will both offer subscription based games like TESO, and other free-to-play titles, Xbox Live Gold is required for any online play on the Xbox One. Sony’s PlayStation 4 free-to-play games are not gated behind the subscription service.

We’ll have to wait and see if Bethesda is successful in swaying Microsoft’s policy.

 

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Can The Elder Scrolls Online Survive With a Paid Subscription?


TESO

Yesterday, Bethesda Softworks announced that their upcoming MMO The Elder Scrolls Online will be using the highly questionable paid subscription model instead of the new standard free-to-play model. Will this franchise be able to succeed where others have fallen? The Daily Reaction crew of Sebastian Moss and Dan Oravasaari discuss.

Dan: With gamescom going on as we speak, it is difficult to stay up on all of the news, so if you haven’t heard, Zenimax has announced that The Elder Scrolls Online will be using the subscription model, and players will have to pay $15/month to wander around Tamriel.

Having seen so many major IPs abandon the paid subscription model after trying so hard to get it to succeed, only to eventually move over to the F2P model, it just seems weird for TESO to try and reintroduce it to the market. With the success of Skyrim and the previous games under the The Elder Scrolls moniker, it is easy to see the power of the franchise, but that still won’t guarantee its success.

Over the last decade we have seen the switch over to the free-to-play model, leading to the death of the subscription-only model in some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. Star Wars: The Old Republic was set to be one of the biggest MMOs ever to launch, and was thought to even be the one franchise that could be capable of dethroning the legendary World of Warcraft that has single-handedly dominated the scene for years. Sadly, the launch of the game had a mixed reception forcing EA to add in a F2P option, making the game a hybrid of paid and micro-transactions.

The Lord of the Rings Online, a game that in 2010 the NPD Group called the ‘third most popular MMO’, have said that the F2P model was to thank for its growing install base – showing just how influential the new business model had become.

Now, with the PS4 and XBO are set to launch later this year, we are seeing numerous F2P games of various genres hitting the console space. The PS4 will have an unimaginable number of F2P games coming out at, or around, its launch, already setting to clutter up the market for anyone looking to start a subscription plan. Lucky for fans, but not so much for TESO, DC Universe Online, PlanetSide 2, Dust 514 and War Thunder, which are all MMOs of sorts, will be hitting the PS4 without any form of subscription – also not to mention the addition of the F2P shooters: Blacklight: Retribution and Warframe.

Simply looking at the market from that perspective, it is difficult to see why TESO would even have a shot in any space using the subscription model. Bigger IPs have tried and failed, the market is flooded with ‘freemium’ content and they will also be competing with people who are just playing free games with PlayStation Plus.

If we look at the most successful MMO of all time, World of Warcraft, it is odd to see that after all of these years it is still a big success while being able to use a paid subscription model. But, looking at a simple fact, we might be able to not only understand why the others have failed, but why TESO might succeed. Unlike the other franchises that were turned into games, Warcraft has always been a gaming platform, much like The Elder Scrolls, so it has proven itself to fans already. This idea that maybe it isn’t the strength of a powerful IP that matters, but the power it already has within the gaming demographic.

Seb: Yeah, it was a surprising announcement, that’s for sure, and I think this price model will really impact its success.

If any franchise can pull off charging people, it’s The Elder Scrolls. World of Warcraft peaked at 12 million subscribers (now 7 million), which is only slightly ahead of the 10 million sales of Skyrim.

Of course, Skyrim is singleplayer and only costs you once, but the RPG format lends itself perfectly to MMOs, which is why an impressive 3 million people have signed up for the beta. A significant number of people love the franchise’s universe and play style, and even more trust the brand.

With the PS4 and Xbox One focusing heavily on connected experiences, most next gen console users will have the internet speeds to play an MMO, and have a credit card linked to their digital account.

If all goes well, a few million people could sign up for the game, earning Zenimax a significant amount of cash in the long run. If all goes well.

The problem is, as Dan touched upon, there are a significant amount of hurdles to cross. First off, the game has to be really good to build up hype and retain users. Wood liked the game in our preview, but it’s important to note that this game is from a new developer, Zenimax Online Studios, rather than franchise creator Bethesda. This new team has to work on a truly massive game, as well as deal with all the usual problems of a multiplayer game.

And, even if the game is really good, and part of a strong IP, it’s not a guarantee of huge success. Guild Wars 1 sold around 7 million units, and its sequel, GW2, has so far ‘only’ sold 3 million, with an enviable Metacritic score of 90. And, even though Guild Wars 2 is F2P game after you buy the disc, the game’s peak concurrency is around 400,000 players.

The game will also need to keep its audience for years to be a true hit. Star Wars: The Old Republic, thought to be the costliest game ever developed, became the “fastest-growing MMO ever” with 1 million subscribers in three days… but soon began to hemorrhage fans, ultimately leading to the F2P move.

Next, there’s the problem of console subscriptions. Xbox users are already paying for XBL, PS4 gamers will soon all be paying for PS+, and multiconsole owners have to pay for both. Do they really want to add another subscription to that?

And then, of course, there are all the free MMOs that will take up their own share of the market, and be more appealing to price-conscious gamers.

Despite all these clear problems, I’m sure many publications will label this a ‘World of Warcraft Killer’, just like every other MMO as it nears release, but it won’t be (WoW will just die naturally).

What I predict, should the game get decent enough reviews, is a strong start, but a drop in the price of subscription relatively quickly, and a free-to-play capped version within the year. F2P has become the inevitable outcome of all MMOs, and, honestly, I think Zenimax knows this – they’re just trying to get extra money from the core fans via subscriptions while they can, before finally giving in.

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The Elder Scrolls Online Will Have a Monthly Subscription Fee of $14.99/€12.99/£8.99


The Elder Scrolls Online

The PlayStation 4 is set to have a few F2P titles on November 15th/29th, but when The Elder Scrolls Online launches next year for the system, it will have a monthly subscription fee, rather than being free-to-play.

Matt Firor, Game Director on TESO, confirmed this news to GameStar, saying, “Charging a flat monthly (or subscription) fee means that we will offer players the game we set out to make, and the one that fans want to play. Going with any other model meant that we would have to make sacrifices and changes we weren’t willing to make.”

Going into specific costs, the first 30 days of online play after you purchase the game will be absolutely free, with a monthly charge of $14.99/€12.99/£8.99 after that. Discounts on multiple months are expected, and you’ll be able to buy game time cards, along with numerous other payment options.

Talking about how the console versions of The Elder Scrolls Online will have the same “graphics, engine, content, etc,” Firor also let it be known that they’re already working on post-launch content for the game (quest lines, skills, zones, dungeons). Timing is still being finalized, but they are planning on updating the game every 4-6 weeks with new content.

Looking at 2014, we can expect to hear PS4 beta news early in the year, and on the topic of PC and console versions being released the same day, Matt said, “This is something else we’ll talk more about early next year as we finalize our launch schedule.”

 

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EverQuest Next is Real, and it’s Amazing!


The next-gen MMORPG offers a destructible world, intelligent monsters, and a whole lot more.

 

EverQuest Next will feature destructible environments, procedurally-generated quests that stem from independent monster behavior, and a revamped crafting system. If the team at SOE actually pulls off what they want to do with the next-generation MMORPG, then it could truly be the long-awaited next step for what has become a largely stagnant genre.

Lately, MMORPGs have existed on something of a linear continuum. On the one end, you have your strictly enforced amusement parks like World of Warcraft. On the other, your free-for-all sandboxes like EVE Online. However, Sony Online Entertainment Director of Design David Georgeson doesn’t think EverQuest Next fits on that continuum.

“EverQuest is another point in the triangle,” he says. “We’re creating a triangle; it’s not just a line anymore.”

It’s a sort of massively multiplayer Minecraft with elves, crafting, monsters, and all of the other trappings of a fantasy RPG.

It sounds like a bit of a cop-out. After all, what game wants to be directly compared to the competition, unless it’s the in the most positive light possible? But there’s some truth to that statement as well. EverQuest Next definitely isn’t as linear as World of Warcraft, but it’s not quite like EVE Online either. In essence, it’s a game where players shape the world together, a sort of massively multiplayer Minecraft with elves, crafting, monsters, and all of the other trappings of a fantasy RPG.

As the name suggests, EverQuest Next is meant to represent an evolutionary leap for the venerable series. It’s not a traditional MMO, Georgeson says. The original concept behind EverQuest, which was fresh back in 1998, has been done to death. It’s time for something new.

“What we need to deliver with EverQuest Next is something really original, so what we did was tear it down to the bedrock,” Georgeson says. “We pick what we liked, what we didn’t like, and we came up with a list of holy grails that we as designers had always wanted to do, but never had the time or the intestinal fortitude to try before.”

 

Georgeson, obviously, is confident. He points to the experience of his team, which averages about 10 years. Most of the leads have four or five MMORPG under their belt. Georgeson himself was the force behind the original Planetside and Tribes 2, both of which are highly-regarded today. That experience has allowed them to iron out most of the technical issues early.

“It’s intimidating, but we’ve been breaking these things down into categories and attacking them one at a time, so that we can polish up what needs polishing before moving on,” he said. “We’ve also prioritized all of our heaviest risks at the earliest stage to prove that we can get them done. Now we’re past all of the R&D hurtles, and we’re at the point where we’re doing what we know how to do, which is build an MMORPG.”

 

Of all the new features that EverQuest Next brings to the table, the ability to alter the world is the most intriguing, since it fulfills a promise that was seemingly made way back in the early days of the genre. When we hear, “Massively multiplayer player-controlled world,” we tend to think of a world where players can do whatever they want. That hasn’t really been the case though, what with all the careful moderation and linear quests. Sure, we’ve seen player-created cities in Star Wars Galaxies, and EVE Online has long given complete control of the galaxy over to its players. But by and large, online worlds remain static until the development team comes along with the next batch of content.

Every player can work together to build a permanent settlement.

In EverQuest Next, a rallying call with periodically go out across an entire server; and for the next two months, every player can work together to build a permanent settlement. Along the way, there may be subquests or monster attacks, and construction may be delayed. But when it’s all finished, it’s very much permanent.

This degree of control extends to the world itself. Teleport away from an attack, and you’ll leave a little dent in the ground. If you’re an Earth Wizard, it’s possible to raise barriers out of any part of the ground, or create sinkholes to trap monsters. If a large party of enemies happens to be crossing a bridge, then a spell can knock out the bridge and send them plunging to their doom. Of course, the bridge will be gone as well, which opens up a new set of challenges.

 

This is all accomplished with voxels – the fundamental building block of EverQuest Next – which allow for more convincing destruction. Players will occasionally be prevented from destroying things, Georgeson says, because otherwise “player cities would become player parking lots.” Monsters, however, can and will show up to wreak havoc, and left unchecked, they can do plenty of damage to player settlements. A dragon, for instance, may come in and knock a castle wall down, necessitating repairs.

Jump to another server, and a city may be where a field is supposed to be, or it might not exist at all.

Over time, individual servers in EverQuest Next are meant to become their own worlds. Jump to another server, and a city may be where a field is supposed to be, or it might not exist at all. It will be possible to dig deep into the ground and make all kinds of interesting archaeological discoveries. And to keep things fresh, SOE will occasionally use an earthquake to shake things up and open up new areas.

Rather than a static playground, EverQuest Next is meant to be a living breathing world. Many of the quests will be dynamic, and monsters will have likes, dislikes, and general motivations for their behavior. Orcs, for example, love gold, and will go anywhere they can get it, which can result in a battle for territory as players fight to establish a city. Exterminating one group of monsters can rile up another group, prompting them to attack; or it may result in them picking up and moving on to another location.

 

On a micro level, Georgeson hopes that all of these actions, reactions, and dynamic quests will allow players to build up individual histories; to allow them to say, in effect, “Oh yeah, I was there when the southern regions were hit by the Great Goblin Invasion of 2014.”

“We want people to develop a long, detailed history of their character,” Georgeson says, “so that when they tell others that story, they actually care, as opposed to, ‘Yeah, yeah, I did that quest.'”

For EverQuest lifers, of course, many of the elements that have defined the series over the years will still be in place. Crafting will be a huge part of the EverQuest Next experience (“Crafting is us. We love crafting,” Georgeson says), especially with the battle system being revamped so that hotbar actions are innate to weapons. Many of the familiar locations from the past games will also be present, albeit with much better graphics. SOE is also encouraging players to help build up the world of EverQuest Next by releasing their internal toolset to the public. Fans can build landmarks; and if the developers like them enough, they will be put in the game.

A human wizard and a Kerran warrior break through a cavern floor into a magma chamber.

Having been in development for more than four years now, EverQuest Next has been something of a mystery to fans, to the point that it’s been regarded by some as vaporware. Now that SOE has taken off the wraps, it’s clear that they have some very interesting ideas for the MMORPG space. With World of Warcraft on the decline and no clear successor ready to take its place as the dominant MMO of the generation, the time is ripe for a new MMORPG to rise up. It’s still early, but EverQuest Next has at least established itself as a strong contender for that position; a worthy comeback for one of the genre’s founders.

[Note: Sony told IGN, “We’re not releasing that information right now” when asked if EverQuest Next would, like several other SOE MMOs, also be released on PlayStation 4.]

 

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